Rosalie Bradford, who once held world records for being the heaviest woman on the planet and for losing the most weight, died on Nov. 29. Cause of death was not released. She was 63.
The Pennsylvania native battled obesity for much of her life. She was abandoned at six months old and raised by a baby sitter. After her foster mother died during her 12th year, Bradford turned to food for comfort. By the 8th grade, she weighed 309 lbs.
The habit of substituting food for comfort and self-esteem eventually turned into a life-long addiction, one that caused Bradford’s weight to balloon. In 1987, the Guinness World Records gave her the title of Heaviest Woman in the World. At the time, she weighed 1,050 pounds and was 8 feet wide. Her daily 10,000-calorie-a-day diet involved consuming coffee, 10 slices of cheese on toast, five large pancakes, bacon and eggs, half a chocolate cake, four rounds of ham and cheese or turkeys andwiches with extra butter, a large plate of mashed potatoes with pork chops or roast beef and vegetables and a large pizza or steak sandwich with fried onions and melted cheese.
Bradford’s weight problem was exacerbated by blood poisoning in her leg. She underwent 12 operations to repair the condition, but the required 18 months of bed rest immoblized and depressed her. As was her habit, Bradford ate to compensate. Eventually she was unable to leave her bed; her husband and son even celebrated Christmas there. Bathing took up to 2 hours because there was so much of her to wash.
Bradford spent decades trying to lose the weight, but would always gain it back again. This up-and-down cycle, combined with her fragile emotional state, led her to attempt suicide. In response, a concerned friend wrote to Richard Simmons in 1989 and asked for his help. The fitness guru responded by calling Bradford at her Florida home and encouraging her to lose the weight. Her first step? Clapping to one of Simmon’s workout videos. Each clap inspired Bradford to continue moving — no easy task for a woman of her size. However, by following Simmons’ 1,500-calorie-a-day “Deal A Meal” plan and exercising more, she lost 736 lbs.
In 1992, Bradford weighed 314 lbs. when the Guinness Book of Records bestowed her with another title: Woman Who Lost the Most Weight. She went back to school and earned a degree in psychology from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. In recent years, Bradford toured the country giving motivational speeches at weight-loss seminars.